Tinkering

Another Rands In Repose gem.

Tinkering is a deceptively high-value activity. You don’t usually allocate much time to tinkering because the obvious value of tinkering is low. You don’t start tinkering with a goal in mind; you start with pure curiosity. I’ve heard about this thing, but I’ve never used it. How does this thing work? I’ve always wanted to know about more about X. Downtime is an easy time to tinker. Nothing is pressing, so these acts of mental wandering are acceptable.

This is how things get done. This is my life.

I think Dopamine is related to why I tinker. There is a definite expectation to getting something out of it. And that is all the motivation I need.

The dopamine from the ventral tegmental area… usually sends dopamine into the brain when animals (including people) expect or receive a reward. That reward might be a delicious slice of pizza or a favorite song. This dopamine release tells the brain that whatever it just experienced is worth getting more of. And that helps animals (including people) change their behaviors in ways that will help them attain more of the rewarding item or experience.

My reward is learning something about a gadget. Similar to how reading rewards me with learning about science, history, motivations, or behavior.

 

Blogs in a post-truth society

I love Michael Lopp’s writing in Rands In Repose. His entry The Likeability Feedback Loop captures why I still have my RSS reader and try to comment on posts that engage me.

Social media gleefully feeds a post-truth society and it does so by design, but social media is not the problem. Fake news is not the problem. The problem is we the people taking the time to think critically.

Comments are open here because I know that while it is my great joy to understand and write about a few select topics deeply, what will make these topics honest and true is if you tell me what you think.

Bloggers tend to engage their readers, welcoming feedback, and asking for more when they fail to understand it. Not every one, but enough that it makes commenting worth the chance. They enjoy the conversations.

When WordPress Jetpack released their publicize tool to put posts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+, I almost refrained from using it. I was not sure at the time I wanted to mix my social media and blogging spheres. It fractures the conversation. The responses on those spaces do not make it back to the post, so there are five different spaces for the conversation.

Of late, Facebook also notifies me each week how many likes my content received. The most recent one was about 230-something which pleased me because it was around 140 the two weeks prior. And then I realized just how shitty it is that I valued myself over Likes. So very superficial.

The comment I left for Michael:

Blogs are harder to consume than social media. There is the challenge of discovering ones I like enough to subscribe. The constant dying of RSS readers. And the death of blogs I enjoy as the bloggers encounter life changing circumstances.

Social media is far easier. People I follow suggest things for me to read. I subscribe to essentially curators who put in front of me the things I want to read. And really I am surprised Facebook and Twitter have not gone the way of SixDegrees, Tribe, Friendster, and Myspace.

Maybe Now We’ll Be Heard?

Its funny. Apparently its time consuming for companies to conduct brand analysis (just know what is being said about them). So a niche has been filled by Scout Labs and others. (Hopefully Scout is paying attention and is reading this. Maybe Umbria will also comment their product is better. :D)

On the one hand, I think more companies ought to pay attention. In addition, I hope through honest reflection they use the reactions exposed online to make improvements. For example, I will pick on Blackboard (the company I pick on most). A complaint about documentation from Laura Gekeler’s blog resulted in a contact from a senior director offering help. There are dozens of people who blog about their experiences with Blackboard. I doubt most of them are on the radar of Blackboard’s marketing folks.

How many of these posts help to sway the impressions to Blackboard brands? My readership is tiny. The same compliment issued on my blog, Laura’s blog, and a top blogger would help the brand most coming from the top blogger. So far, except for the patent rumble, the top bloggers and sites like Slashdot have remained mostly silent. The profile of the typical blogger who will mention Blackboard is that of a user. Students mention having to use it for a class. Faculty members mention putting something up for a class they teach. Instructional designers talk about building classes. The smallest but most vocal group are the technical behind the scenes people (like me) who have to make this stuff run. None of these build a huge following. At best we read each others’ blogs so we influence each other than the masses.

Something that used to bother me is the appeal to being a publicly traded company as the reason why they are mostly silent. That is quite okay with me. Just fix it and don’t say anything.
🙂

tag: Blackboard Inc, , brand analysis, ,

Social Marketing

Normally, I consider John Dvorak a crotchety old-timer who doesn’t get human-computer interaction due to his myopic self-centered view. (His use isn’t usually my use, so he gripes seem inapplicable.) Finally, he got one right… almost. In his most recent blog post… er… opinion article, he described people using social networks as “marketing” themselves. Actually, the phrasing is identity management. People use these online tools to appear better than who they really are. Well… Duh. I’ve always thought I should use technology, especially social networking tools, to control what others think about me.

Back in the old days, as a Webmaster, I discovered the friend of a friend of a friend had a LiveJournal (one of the first social network sites, predating even Friendster) blog where she posted a bit of her art work from her classes. I’m not a freelancer, so I gave her some of the freelance web design leads which she turned into experience to help her get a real graphic design job. Rands might just be understanding getting a job is a potential use of Twitter. Given employers Google their job candidates, why not? I am sure there are many reasons for why one should strive to maintain a positive image for those taking the initiative to check.

The technology is new, but the purpose is as old as natural selection. We all wish to succeed. Stone tools allowed my distant ancestors to accomplish monotonous tasks faster than others and attract more advantageous mates. Maybe social networks are the modern stone tools?

Apple 1 – Apple 1

So selling music online does not violate a deal which “forbade Apple [Computer] from distributing music on physical media such as CDs or cassette tapes”. Wow… if only that has been a Supreme Court decision here in the US. That would have made the Napster case much more interesting. Sounds like Apple Corps should have gotten into the online music sales business and made it part of the settlement before iTunes happened.

Ouch.

Apple wins Beatles battle | CNET News.com

The High Court in London on Monday ruled that Apple Computer is not liable for trademark infringement because the use of the Apple logo on its iTunes Music Store was not associated with the music it was selling and thus did not breach a previous settlement between the companies.

Apple Corps had sued the Mac maker, claiming that the launch of the iTunes online music store overstepped the boundaries set out in a 1991 settlement for how each company could use their shared brand. The record label sought damages and asked that Apple Computer stop using its name and fruit-shaped logo for selling music online.

During the trial, Apple Corps argued that downloading music is the same as buying a record in a store, while Apple Computer argued that the iTunes Music Store is essentially a means of transmitting data.

Legal experts predicted in March, when the trial began, that the case would end with Apple Computer paying out a multimillion-dollar settlement to Apple Corps, as it did in 1991.

That settlement carved up the areas where each company could use their respective Apple brands. The agreement forbade Apple from distributing music on physical media such as CDs or cassette tapes, but it was not clear whether this extended to the distribution of digital music over the Internet.

The 1991 settlement followed a deal in 1981 stipulating that Apple Computer must stay out of the music business.

Company Culture

In this article, Rands describes the building of a company culture in getting a software product to 1.0. Company culture has become a topic of interest to me lately. In taking a new job in a place with a very different mindset, I want to better understand my component in this machine.

Thoughts in my head:

  • Change is good and bad. Depending on whether you pick a good or bad or ambivalent route you get different results.
  • Adapt or die.
  • Personal preference colors choice.

Rands In Repose: 1.0

In thinking about the difficulties of 1.0, I realized that Maslow’s [Hierarchy of Needs] model fundamentally applied to shipping the first version of a product. There’s a hierarchy that defines what you need to build in order to ship 1.0 and it sort’f looks like this.

NADD Free Electron Completionist

Rands in Repose has been on my mind lately and re-read. This gem of a web site contains descriptions of techie and management personalities that I recognize.

Okay, several personality description are of me. NADD? My laptop connected to blogs and other web sites, a blaring TV, and desktop playing music, say “Totally!” I am a Completionist, dead to rights. At one time, I was a Free Electron.

I think ultimately I wish that I was still a Free Electron.

Strange projects were put on my plate so that I could bear the brunt of my indomitable will on them to create, develop, alter, or destroy every problem. Somewhere along the line, through promotions and reassignment of duties I no longer to research or development; I administrate. Two to three apprentices seek my guidance; meetings; policy; conferences. This perhaps marks the start of my decline in job satisfaction. In order to stay happy, I first thought I will have to change my job back into research first and development second. Perhaps if I read enough of this stuff as what I should be doing instead of what my boss does not do, then I can get back that job satisfaction?